We’ve all been there. Decision time. Whether it’s a big “life decision” like which house to buy or a seemingly small choice like whether to be honest with your friend about her new hairstyle, wouldn’t we all just love it if God’s direction came through loud and clear every time?
The leading of God was simply vivid for the Israelites when they were wandering in the desert. They had a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. At other times, God lead them directly through Israel’s kings or prophets. However, as soon as the visible, tangible signs from God were obscured … as soon as the obvious miracles ceased… the Israelites lost sight of God’s light and continually exhibited very short memories. They strayed from God’s path every single time.
When I am reminded of how clearly God communicated to the Israelites, I admit that I am bit jealous. Aren’t you? Really, just imagine a pillar of fire appearing in your backyard every time you struggled with a choice. You might have some explaining to do to the neighbors, but think of how much easier daily living would be. Of course, that’s assuming that you will heed the direction. In our modern society, we tend to believe that we’ve evolved as a human race to the point that we wouldn’t behave like the Israelites. We confidently assure ourselves that if God literally appeared in fire, wind, clouds, or even sent an angel, that we would do exactly what he tells us to do, versus the Israelites who made so many mistakes they got stuck on 40-year sand safari.
But we couldn’t be more wrong. That’s because there’s only one difference between us and them. And it has nothing to do with technology, culture or education.
God manifested Himself in very physical ways in Old Testament times because the Israelites didn’t have the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit to provide the light from within (and also the conviction to follow through on the direction).
It’s the time of year where we celebrate the coming of the light for all mankind – not just the Israelites. God literally appeared in the form of a baby who grew up and walked with the human race for more than three decades. His ultimate sacrifice paved the way for the light you and I have today as believers. John 1:1,3 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” And, yes, there are times that the light may seem as dim as a candle on a blustery night. But the beautiful reality is that even a candle is capable illuminating the next small step in front of you.
The bigger question here, though, isn’t how you hear or see God’s direction, but what do you do with it when you receive it. For example, what would you do in the case of your friend with the new hairstyle when she asks you what you think and it truly looks bad? Telling her the truth in a loving way seems like a small decision compared to buying a house … but is it? Isn’t more revealed about us and our character in the smaller, but clearly stickier, daily decisions of life? The reality is we often build our character little by little over time, especially in the moments that require us to be uncomfortably honest or to squint in the darkness with only a small candle to guide our steps. It is in these times that the character of Christ has the chance to shine the brightest in our lives and God is training our vision to become more focused on His light and not the distractions lurking in the darkness.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
Random musings, heartfelt confessions, and occasionally inspirational thoughts from a hungry soul in pursuit of the One who set the stars in place yet calls me by name.
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